Like a club right out of Austin Powers, Jan Bannenberg's Double Down Room was the ultimate of Sixtie's mod. At the time, it was the largest interior of any passenger ship occupying the aft end of Upper and Boat Decks. The room had no fixed function: It acted as a lounge for drinking and coffee taking; and, on special occasions, for grand balls, games and impromptu entertainments. It therefore had it's public as well as it's private space: extrovert flourishes and intimate elements.
The lower level of this double height room was approached from the promenade on Upper Deck through swing doors. The center of the room was dominated by a dance floor. Around it were William Plunkett Kingston chairs and settees upholstered in puce, red and orange. On the edge of the dance floor a curved wall of tinted glass rose up behind the bandstand, the lower of whose two circular platforms could be swung out to form an apron stage. Opposite the bandstand an imposing 24 feet wide staircase swoops down from the upper floor, the sepia glass balustrade echoed the bandstand wall, and the scarlet nylon handrail was carried round the edge of the upper level to form a powerful centralizing element.
Quieter areas were provided behind the bandstand and the flanking passageways which led towards the bar and onto the deck beyond. These semi-circular alcoves were fitted with bench seating upholstered in plum coloured leather, while above wall panels of plum suede were stepped back to conceal strips of fluorescent lighting.
On the upper level chairs and tables were arranged around the well as in the same manner as below and there are more semi-enclosed alcoves at each end. There was a circular dance floor facing the staircase and a rectangular island bar faced in panels of plum coloured suede and lit from above by a weird forest of mitered steel tubes, over looked the bandstand at the opposite end. The inside of the well was finished with stainless steel and corrugated aluminum. The off-white ceiling was made of Dampa aluminum planks inset with coloured recessed lamps.
The carpet was a lush herringbone of puce and damson, specially woven for the Double Room by Kosset. The original contract work was carried out by H. H. Martin & Co. LTD.
After the takeover of Cunard by Trafalgar House, the shopping centre was moved onto the Boat Deck level of the room. This took away the seating areas on that level along with the island bar and circular dance floor. Stage lighting, spot lights, a Bose sound system were all added to the Boat Deck level, ceiling and balustrades to facilitate the shows that became very popular in the room in the 1970s & 80s.
By far, the biggest change came in 1986/ 87 when the ship underwent a major refit in Bremerhaven. Getting QE2 ready for the 21st Century involved new concepts for her public rooms, especially Double Down. A horseshoe stair case was added at the forward end, encompassing the band stand. The grand circular stairs were taken out. Seating was set in sections marked with chrome railings and mauve and Baltic blue chairs with chrome framing. The carpeting being a dark blue with a repeating pattern to match the chairs. The quality of the items in the room - the chairs and tables were no match for the furniture that they replaced. One crew member described it as a 'monstrous design." And numerous passengers lamented the passing of that which was familiar. But for better or worse the room was forever changed.
From there the ship went through a series of changes, trying to correct the mistakes made in 86/87 until finally a design that became fitting of such a grand liner emerged. The horseshoe stairs being removed, new wood, chrome and copper accents being added to both Upper and Boat Deck levels of the room, High end shops such as H. Stern now adorned the Boat Deck level. Heavy drapes and a proper stage for productions being added gave the room a focal point. Replacing the poorly chosen furniture of the refit, plush new chairs, while more traditional, echoed the colour scheme of the original room. The Grand Lounge had arrived.